Hello Bliss Friends,
Never did I think at the start of this year that I would be cancelling or postponing all my work, as with everyone else too. The whole world shutting down to prevent the population of millions from getting Covid-19 virus that is spreading across the globe.
It sounds like a movie, doesn’t it?! What I have found through any tough times is that my mindfulness practice is my saviour. It’s come to my aid in many of life’s challenges from redundancy, loss & grief, and depression. Even now I’ve recognised that without my mindful living approach, that I might be in a totally different place right now.
Mindfulness isn’t about getting to any place of peace, a destination of happiness all the time to ignore or push away how we are feeling. Mindfulness is about recognising the feelings and befriending them, seeing them in its entirety. It’s stepping right up to the fear or pain and starting to investigate it gently, seeing what it is in the moment.
I’ve tried for many years to try and ignore how I’m feeling, to push those feelings deep down and it only left me feeling despair later on in my years.
When this pandemic came about I was listening to all the news, seeing and watching the updates regularly to stay on top of everything that was happening. The fear rose up in me, like so many people and I caught the wave of the pandemic, anxiety, the unknown of how life was going to be, the cancelled plans and holidays, the fear of losing money.
Then I realised that I needed to dig deep into my practice, to be with these feelings of being scared, frightened and fearful. I sat with them many mornings through meditation, listening to my body and feelings and doing nothing but being with them. Focussing on each breath, in every moment until my timer went off. My mind drifted to all the what if’s and dramatising the worst but I brought it back to my body and the sensations that arose or watching my breath as if for the first time. It was the biggest challenge.
Slowly day by day, I watched as the fear moved on. My body felt less tense and my mind became clearer. I have felt more at peace and being in the moment as time has gone on.
This is the magic of mindfulness, doing nothing but observing and being with the experience as it is. Despite how painful it is, I know this myself as I have been the biggest deserter when it comes to being with pain and fear.
I’ve listened to a lot of wise teachers and the one thing they had said is that we must be gentle with the fear and face it with compassion. I teach a lot of classes on compassion and it’s a principle I come back to again and again.
Change in our life is inevitable and yet we find it the hardest to deal with. What our future looks like is uncertain but if we can stay in the present moment, seeing it for what it is we can deal with what is to come in a more calm and considered way rather than despairing over what we have lost, and what our old lives looked like.The worry will not be able to help us, it will only drag us down.
When we are compassionate towards ourselves and the situation we can feel a little lighter.
I hope these exercises can help you in the moments of fear and stress.
- I know it’s difficult with your house maybe full of people but try and see if you can find 5 minutes a day to sit on your own and watch your breath. You can even count breath in 1, breath out 1, and so on until you reach 10 and then repeat it. This can help calm a busy mind that might be drifting into future thinking. Don’t worry if you forget to count, just be kind to yourself and bring it back to 1 again.
- As I’m washing my hands a lot, they have become particularly dry. I have been using my hand cream massage to slow down my breathing and drop into the moment as I massage my hands. It’s soothing and helps drag me from any stress I might be experiencing at the moment. It’s a great way to be kind to yourself and your hands.
- Daily walking is essential for me at the moment, with or without the family. Being cooped up all day doesn’t help anyone with their mental health. The government guidelines suggest to have a walk, run or cycle every day and keep at least 2 meters from anyone outside of the home. I’ve been walking in all weathers just to get some fresh air, clear my mind and stay in the present.
- Give yourself permission to just be, we have so many expectations about maybe doing jobs to keep us busy like clearing the garage because you’ve not done it in years. You might be thinking of starting a new hobby as you don’t want to waste the extra time we have, or doing lots of exercise because you think sitting around all day will make you gain weight. Give yourself a break for a while, we are currently experiencing something we have never been through in our lifetime. Your body has been through some immense strong emotions and maybe it needs a little rest. Could you resist the urge to start doing lots of things and settle into the pure act of being for a while. It might be the best medicine you could give yourself and a radical act of self-care and kindness.